Editorial: The shithole apology

Former United States secretary of state Rex Tillerson’s tour of Africa was meant to be, in part, a way to make amends for the derogatory comments his boss made in January. In case you have forgotten — we certainly haven’t — President Donald Trump described African countries as “shitholes”.

But instead of rebuilding the fractured relationship between the US and Africa, Tillerson’s trip achieved the exact opposite, underscoring just how little the American president respects the continent and its people.

Tillerson was recalled to Washington mid-trip, forcing him to curtail his itinerary. We know now why: Trump was about to fire him.

Trump had sent a lame duck secretary of state to do his dirty work in Africa — and then could not even be bothered to let him complete the task.

Over the past two American presidencies, enormous strides have been made in improving the relationship between the US and its African allies. George W Bush is still revered in some parts of Africa for his commitment to the fight against HIV, and Barack Obama played up his African roots on multiple trips to the continent.

Trump is undoing all that, and in doing so is reinforcing the negative prejudices and stereotypes that have for so long coloured the perception of the African continent abroad.

But at least we know where we stand. The message to Africans is clear: we don’t have a friend in the White House. 

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

‘Frustrated’ police resort to force

Regulation uncertainty leaves slap-happy police and soldiers to decide when people should or shouldn’t be allowed on the streets

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders